The MountainCity Story, Part One

This is the story of how a married couple became a love-song-singing-songwriting duo known as the MountainCity band. Part one.

(Denver, CO)  It was just a year ago that Dave and Tara Powers launched a Kickstarter Campaign, raising money to start recording their songs. That’s when this married couple officially became the Colorado-based band known as MountainCity. They have been releasing one song monthly (sometimes in multiple versions) since June of 2016.

On a recent trip to Nashville, they were asked by several people, “What kind of music do you play? What’s your genre?” And Dave’s explanation is that people listen to music differently now.

“People create playlists. They go to Spotify and put all the songs they love together. That’s how they listen. So we’re like a modern-day playlist. We’re just writing the songs and the music that’s in our hearts and it doesn’t all fit into one particular genre. We’re trying to be honest with the music that’s in us and releasing it.”

So how did this husband-and-wife/mom-and-dad singing duo become MountainCity, the band?

Dave and Tara recently shared the story on their weekly Facebook Live stream. They laugh a lot as they talk about it, getting wide-eyed and reflective. You can tell they truly appreciate every facet of this story-in-the-making.

And it is a great story. It all began when they adopted their youngest son, Kai.

2013 – A baby and an invitation to sing

When Dave and Tara and their firstborn son, Hunter decided, to adopt a baby, it became a life-changing event in more ways than one. Throughout the adoption process, they met and became very close friends with Rebecca Vahle, an adoption support specialist, who helped them navigate the all of the ins and outs of adopting a child.

Kai was born in January of 2013. They were already a close and loving family of three, when Kai, whose name means “rejoice,” was born. When he came home, their love and joy increased exponentially. There was a whole lot of rejoicing surrounding his birth and adoption among all of their friends and family!

The Powers Family, late 2013

Dave and Tara, grateful for the blessing adoption brought to their lives, became enthusiastic adoption advocates. And it was their friend, Rebecca, who invited them to sing at an adoption advocacy fundraiser in November of that year.

As they understood it, they would come and play music as the meal was being served – singing and playing in the background while people enjoyed their dinners. However, when they arrived that fateful night, they saw the printed program announcing, “Special Concert at the end of the evening: Dave and Tara Powers.”

They were shocked!

Dave likes to tell the story with descriptives like, “We crapped bricks!” Or, “I seriously almost peed my pants!” And Tara is not even phased by it. It’s evident, as they recount the story, they’re both still completely surprised by how it all unfolded.

“I mean, we had practiced,” Tara says, “but we were not ready to put on ‘a show!’” They had never done anything like that. They quickly found a quiet hallway and started practicing their list of love songs.

Dave says, “We ended up going in and singing and we had so much fun!”

Tara agreed. “There was so much life in it for us. It was wonderful to get to sing with my beloved, but also the songs we had chosen were love songs we really liked. I think we were just baffled at how much we liked it.”

“Yeah,” Dave said. “It could have been really horrible, but we had fun!”

“We had just come out of a couple of difficult years,” Tara explained. “So having something that brought us life – that’s what happened that night. And we realized, ‘there was joy on thatlet’s keep doing that!’”

Seeing the happiness Dave and Tara experienced in performing at the adoption fundraiser, their community of friends agreed that they should definitely do another concert and they’d help.

Valentine’s “All About Love” Concert at The MadCap Theater, February 2014

It was all love songs that night. And there was a lot of giddy excitement for them.

Dave and Tara and their friends secured the MadCap Theater, an improv club in Westminster, Colorado for the concert. It has a seating capacity of 155 and they hoped people would show up.

People did show up. It was packed to capacity and beyond. It was standing-room-only as 180 people crowded into that space. They were surprised that even though they expected just friends and family they knew, they saw faces of people they’d never met, “strangers” who had purchased a ticket to hear them sing.

Tara was so nervous for that first official concert, she forgot her shoes and had to perform barefoot. In subsequent shows, she often took the stage in her bare feet as an homage to that first night, performing to a paid crowd.

Though they did add a couple of their own songs to the setlist, including “Let’s Fall in Love Again,” they mostly sang cover songs.

“We just had a blast that night,” Tara recalls. “The MadCap had all these crazy costumes and wigs backstage, and we’d just go back and try different things and change our look and laugh our heads off.”

It was at this show that Dave and Tara first unveiled a running joke about the “greatest love song of all times” that they like to do.

They carry on and really build up that they are getting ready to sing the “most amazing, greatest love song ever written.” Then Dave, with great gusto begins playing and singing, in full voice, Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything for Love.”  The song builds and he repeats the line three times, “I would do anything for love….” then the build drops away and very sweetly, and quietly Tara sings, “But I won’!”

And then everyone laughs. Because it is obviously not the greatest love song of all time, but Dave and Tara have a way of making that hilarious every time they do it.

They ended that show with a raucous rendition of “500 Miles.”  The stage was filled with people in wigs and costumes, dancing maniacally. The exuberance was palpable.

When it was all over, Tara remembers crying backstage, thanking their community of friends for helping make the concert a reality.

But even then, as she and Dave thought about it, they didn’t know if it was a thing or if it would even continue.

“We didn’t know,” Dave said. “We were just having so much fun.”

“But,” Tara added, “we were hoping – maybe we could do this again sometime? And we did!”

Decades concert at The Armory, September 2014

By this time, Dave and Tara were head-over-heels happy singing love songs. They decided to produce another concert in September. They knew singing love songs made sense at Valentine’s Day, but they weren’t sure if they could get away with it in September? But singing and performing love songs, in particular, was what they wanted to do.

They decided to call the concert Decades.

Both of them are influenced by so many genres of music and from many different eras.  Tara says, “This is why the music we produce is so eclectic. We do pop, we do folk, we do EDM, country, R&B. We love it all!”

For the Decades concert, the idea was to perform all their favorite love songs from lots of different eras. They sang songs from the 1930s to the present. They covered music by artists from Frank Sinatra to Stevie Wonder. Dave brought the house down with a very soulful version of Al Green’s, “Let’s Stay Together.”

They rented The Armory Performing Arts Center in Brighton, Colorado and filled it with friends, old and new, and family. “It was just a great time,” Dave recalls.

Happy Christmas concert, December 2014

After the Decades concert, people were asking when the next one would be.

They produced and headlined a fundraising concert for a non-profit, with other musical guests. Tara remembers Dave being surprised at how much fun it is to learn and sing Christmas music.

The positive response increased as they played to another full house. They began to see the fun in performing songs about love was just beginning.

Just the beginning…

“That’s really what it was,” Tara said. “From November 2013 to the end of 2014, we were just having fun. We found something that gave us so much life. And it wasn’t only about us when we did concerts. We’d think about the people who would be coming and ask ourselves, ‘How can we pour life into them?’ It was a great year. We got to fall in love with playing music and singing love songs.”

Tara had this photo of Hunter’s hands as her blog header, where she journaled their adoption process and story, 2011-2013

One of the songs Dave and Tara sang at that adoption fundraiser in November of 2013 was Steven Curtis Chapman’s, “When Love Takes You In.” The song is about adoption and was written by Chapman, who heads a foundation that helps families adopt.

Where love takes you in and everything changes

A miracle starts with the beat of a heart”

Reflecting on it now, Tara realizes that when Kai was born in January of 2013 and joined their family, “…it’s like he became part of launching us into something that brings us so much life! Because if we hadn’t adopted Kai, we probably wouldn’t have been invited to the fundraiser to sing. But because of him, we were. And that is very cool.”

When love takes you home and says you belong here

The loneliness ends and a new life begins

-From When Love Takes You In by Steven Curtis Chapman

Dave and Tara with their sons, Kai and Hunter, December 2016

That pretty much sums up 2013 and 2014. Dave and Tara really hadn’t even started writing their own music yet by the end of 2014. They only had a couple of songs at that point. Most of what they performed were covers by other bands and artists.

But it was about to become a whirlwind of an adventure. We’ll leave the story right here for now and tell you all about what happened in 2015 next week…

(posted by Jeanie Rhoades)


Dave would like to thank his sponsor, Franklin Strap.

Dave says, “I flipped my lid when I became a part of the Franklin Strap Family of Artists because these are the most comfortable straps I’ve ever owned! They are made in the U.S.A. of super high quality leather and suede. I have one of their straps on literally every guitar that I play in concert. If you’re looking for a new strap for your guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, or resonator, check these guys out!”

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